Home > Preventable Diseases, Science & Research, Seasonal Flu > Only Parents Can Prevent Today’s Children From Becoming Tomorrow’s Flu Statistic

Only Parents Can Prevent Today’s Children From Becoming Tomorrow’s Flu Statistic

CDC Flu Ambassador Badge FINAL 2014-2015As we countdown to National Influenza Vaccination Week (Dec 7-13) here on Shot of Prevention, we’re participating in a special blog relay with other Flu Vaccination Digital Ambassadors. Each day a different blogger will post about the importance of flu vaccination as it relates to various populations such as parents, children, healthcare workers, the elderly, and people with chronic conditions.  Your invited to join us in conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #NIVW2014, or by commenting on the posts that will appear on the following sites: A Place for Mom (12/1), Nurses Who Vaccinate (12/2), Voices for Vaccines (12/3), Healtheo360(12/5), HealthCentral (12/6), and About.com Cold & Flu (12/7).

The decision to vaccinate our children is based on our overwhelming desire to protect them. While it’s estimated that as many as 93% of children between the ages of 19-35 months were vaccinated in the United States in 2013 in an effort to prevent as many as 16 different diseases, only 58.9% of children 6 months to 17 years, and 52.2% of expectant mothers, were vaccinated against influenza last season.

While we may never know how many of those unvaccinated children were lucky enough to avoid the flu, we do know that each year an average of 20,000 children under the age of 5 are hospitalized because of influenza complications, and that during the 2013-2014 influenza season as many as 109 children died.

The question is, how many more will suffer or die this season?

Despite the fact that childhood influenza vaccination rates have been slowly, but steadily, increasing each year since the universal flu recommendation was announced in 2010, last season’s statistics prove that we can do better.

FluAs we prepare for National Influenza Vaccination Week next week (Dec 7th – 13th), it’s my hope that more parents and expectant mothers will realize how dangerous the flu can be – even to healthy children – because the unfortunate reality is that today’s children may be tomorrow’s statistic and they really don’t have a choice in the matter.

As immunization advocates, we owe it to the children to ensure their parents get the information they need to make an intelligent and informed decision.  For instance, a recent study showed that flu vaccine reduced children’s risk of flu-related pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) admission by 74% during flu seasons from 2010-2012. That’s a pretty convincing statistic in favor of childhood flu vaccination.

And then there is research that illustrates the benefits of flu vaccination among pregnant women. For instance, studies show that giving flu vaccine to pregnant women has been 92% effective in preventing hospitalization of infants for flu. That’s because when women get vaccinated during pregnancy they are not only protecting themselves, but they also transfer antibodies to their unborn baby through the placenta, which helps provide their newborn with protection until they can get their own flu vaccine beginning at six months of age.

And we can take this protection even further.  By ensuring that everyone who comes in close contact with infants gets their flu vaccine – to include parents, siblings, grandparents and caregivers – we further reduce the risk of  flu in young babies who are more likely to suffer serious complications.

Right now we are at a critical point in this year’s flu season.

Since the flu began spreading across the nation in October and November, five children have already died. Since it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop that protect against influenza virus infection, it’s imperative that parents take the steps now to get themselves and their families vaccinated before they are exposed.

As a parent to five children of my own, I can attest to the fact that scheduling yearly flu vaccines can be challenging.  Not only is it a struggle to locate where children of different ages can be immunized, but it can be stressful to shuffle kids to the doctor, clinic or pharmacy amidst all the other activities we are constantly juggling as parents.

But I urge you to make your family’s yearly flu vaccinations a priority.

I’ve had the distinct privilege of getting to know various parent advocates who have lost their children to influenza or other vaccine preventable diseases.  And I’ve yet to meet a single parent whose child has died who wouldn’t give anything to turn back time and vaccinate their child if they were given the chance.

This season, I’ve not only ensured that everyone in our family is vaccinated, but I’m encouraging others to do the same.  I feel good knowing that I’m helping to protect myself, my children and others in my community, especially pregnant women, infants, the elderly and people with chronic medical conditions who are all at high risk of flu complications.

You can do your part too.

If you have questions or concerns about the flu vaccine, visit www.cdc.gov/flu to get the information you need to make an informed decision.  The flu vaccine has not only been safely administered to millions of people, it’s also been credited with preventing an estimated 13.6 million flu cases, 5.8 million medical visits and nearly 113,000 flu-related hospitalizations in the United States over a six-year period (from 2005 to 2011).

If you haven’t already done so, take the flu pledge, find out where to get your flu vaccine and encourage others to do the same. (You can even send a flu vaccination e-card!) Then share your flu vaccine selfies on social media using the #VaxWithMe hashtag! And help us keep the conversation going by reading the other blogs that will be posted as part of the this National Influenza Vaccination Week Blog Relay, beginning with tomorrow’s post which will be hosted by Healtheo360.

  1. December 4, 2014 at 11:44 am

    I don’t own a camera, and I updated my vaccines a while ago — as well as everyone in my family, plus some friends and random strangers — so, no selfie. Still tweeted with hastag #VaxWithMe 😀

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  2. December 4, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    How heartbreaking to hear that 5 children have already succumbed to this preventable disease. As a nurse, I’ve seen children suffer from this illness, and most of them were unvaccinated or not vaccinated in time. Please, parents, the vaccine is safe and effective. It may not be 100% effective but it’ll decrease the severity of the illness if your children is unfortunate to contract it. It can mean the difference of a child recovering at home in 4-5 days to being treated on the ventilator in the Pediatric ICU.

    MelodyRN- http://www.nurseswhovaccinate.org

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  3. Nurse Jamie
    December 4, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    The flip side is that I have seen many children suffer with this illness that were vaccinated and apparently according to the CDC the vaccine is even less effective this year.

    http://www.cnn.com/2014/12/04/health/flu-vaccine-mutated-virus/

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  4. Chris
    December 4, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    So, Nurse Jamie, is it better to vaccinate with partial protection or to not vaccinate with an effectiveness rate that is guaranteed to be 0.000% ?

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  5. Christine Vara
    December 4, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    @NurseJaime I wouldn’t necessarily consider that a “flip side”. You are correct that vaccinated individuals can still fall ill with flu. But it is probably that their cases will be more mild than if they hadn’t been vaccinated. Last year my vaccinated daughter got the flu and I was grateful that only 1 out of 7 of us got sick. And to be honest, her cases was not nearly as bad as the many other people I saw suffering in our area.

    Also, the CDC held a telebriefing just this morning, during which they provided the information that was used by the CNN report you mention. However, the specific details were as follows: The influenza A virus (H3N2) has been detected most frequently in almost all states so far this season and Dr. Frieden warned that when H3 viruses dominate, influenza season tends to be severe. 91% of approximately 1200 flu-positive tests so far this season were Influenza A viruses and 9% were Influenza B. Of the Influenza A viruses, nearly all were H3N2 and about half of these were different than the H3N2 virus in the flu vaccine. However, besides the H# virus, most of the other viruses identified are the same as those in the vaccine.

    Just because the vaccine is not a “perfect match” to one of the predominant circulating viruses, does not mean we should refuse getting vaccinated. Other strains are still circulating and with flu being as unpredictable as it is, any amount of protection is better than none at all.

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  6. Lawrence
    December 4, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    @NJ – I would rather take my chance & get the vaccine, than to take my chances being completely unprotected against the flu. I’ve had the Flu before & it was a week of abject misery…I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy, much less my children.

    All of us got the vaccine this year & happy because of it.

    Like

  7. Liz
    December 5, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    Or take your chances at getting flu and getting a more serious case because you got a flu vaccine. According to the Vancouver Sun:
    “Researchers, led by Vancouver’s Dr. Danuta Skowronski, an influenza expert at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, noticed in the early weeks of the [2009 H1N1] pandemic that people who got a flu shot for the 2008-09 winter seemed to be more likely to get infected with the pandemic virus than people who hadn’t received a flu shot. Five studies done in several provinces showed the same unsettling results.”

    ABC News reported:
    “There is renewed controversy surrounding influenza vaccines, with some studies showing people immunised against the seasonal flu might have been at greater risk during the swine flu outbreak…

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  8. Chris
    December 5, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    Liz (the often banned Ms. Parker): “Or take your chances at getting flu and getting a more serious case because you got a flu vaccine.”

    Do you have a clue what year this is? Or is this some kind of deliberate illiteracy?

    By the way, I am still waiting for those PubMed indexed studies by reputable qualified researchers that show the present influenza vaccines approved for American children cause more harm than influenza, which has already killed five kids this year. Five year old news reports do not count.

    Like

  9. Liz
    December 8, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    And if I gave you one from two years ago, you’d say that two-year old studies don’t count.

    Like

  10. Liz
    December 8, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    From Drs. Ditchek and Greenfield, Healthy Child, Whole Child, 2001 (shortly before the flu vaccine was put on the recommended schedule), 280 ,”We follow the guidelines recommending annual immunization against influenza for children with chronic health problems that could worsen with flu. We do not at this point recommend that healthy children get flu shots, as the benefits to healthy children do not yet outweigh the risks. Dr. Stu has seen at least one case of Guillain-Barre syndrome that was likely associated with a flu shot. A reason often given for vaccinating healthy children for flu is to protect older adults who have not gotten their own immunizations, which we think puts the responsibilily for the health of adults on the wrong shoulders.”

    Like

  11. December 8, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    @Ms. Parker – just go away.

    Like

  12. jgc56
    December 8, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    Liz, I suggest that you read Dr. Skowronski’s publication in full (PMID:20386731) as it doesn’t say what you think it says: it does not establish receiving the 2009 trivalent influenza vaccine conferred an increased risk of becoming infected by that season’s pandemiic H1N1 flu strain.)

    Both the journal and the authors in fact caution readers both frequently and strongly against leaping to such a conclusion throughout the publication: in the article’s abstract (“The occurrence of bias (selection, information) or confounding cannot be ruled out.”), in an attached editor’s summary (“Because all the investigations in this study are “observational,” the people who had been vaccinated might share another unknown characteristic that is actually responsible for increasing their risk of developing pH1N1 illness (“confounding”). Furthermore, the results reported in this study might have arisen by chance, although the consistency of results across the studies makes this unlikely. Thus, the finding of an association between prior receipt of 2008–09 TIV and an increased risk of pH1N1 illness is not conclusive and needs to be investigated further, particularly since some other observational studies conducted in other countries have reported that seasonal vaccination had no influence or may have been associated with reduced chances of pH1N1 illness.); in the discussion section (” The initial Quebec experience with the test-negative case-control design also provides an important caution regarding the potential for selection bias with this approach. This caution applies especially to test-negative designs when specimens are drawn from general laboratory submissions and/or when limitations are placed on testing, such as to individuals with chronic conditions or severe illness”, “Several studies from Australia, Mexico, and the US have instead reported null or protective effects of 2008–09 TIV against pH1N1 illness based on test-negative case-control], case-cohort, or ILI outbreak investigations”, “We also cannot rule out the possibility that the increased risk of pH1N1 found in Canada was an effect specific to the Canadian vaccine: it is noteworthy that ORs were highest in Quebec, where a greater proportion of domestically produced vaccine is distributed than in the rest of Canada.”), “In summary, we report findings from four epidemiologic studies in Canada showing that prior receipt of 2008–09 TIV was associated with increased risk of medically attended pH1N1 illness during the spring–summer 2009. Bias cannot be ruled out in observational studies, and therefore these findings cannot be considered conclusive.”)

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  13. jgc56
    December 8, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    “Dr. Stu has seen at least one case of Guillain-Barre syndrome that was likely associated with a flu shot.”

    How exactly did Dr. Stu establish that this case of GBS was likely associated with receiving a flu shot? Be specific.

    Like

  14. Chris
    December 8, 2014 at 6:59 pm

    Liz (the often banned Ms. Parker): “From Drs. Ditchek and Greenfield, Healthy Child, Whole Child, 2001 (shortly before the flu vaccine was put on the recommended schedule), 280 ”

    Um, where is the PubMed link? Just post the PMID.

    “And if I gave you one from two years ago”

    No, I told you that a two year news article on a flu strain that was not part of the present flu vaccine was out of date. Try working on your reading comprehension.

    Now where are the PubMed indexed studies by reputable qualified researcher that show any influenza vaccine presently being used in the USA for children cause more harm than the disease? You know, the one that in the last two years killed about a hundred American kids per year.

    Like

  15. Henry
    December 8, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    Queen Chris is such a lovely person, I would listen to her.

    Like

  16. Lawrence
    December 9, 2014 at 1:31 am

    @Henry – I’d strike the Queen part, but she’s provided a whole heck of a lot more actual science and research than any of the trolls.

    Like

  17. Liz
    December 12, 2014 at 10:10 pm

    Lawrence,
    We’re civil with you when you come (frequently) to Age of Autism, can you not reciprocate?

    Like

  18. Gray Falcon
    December 13, 2014 at 7:29 am

    Wasn’t Age of Autism the site that posted the altered photo of several doctors digging into the Thanksgiving baby? They lost all right to the word “civil” long before even then.

    Like

  19. Lawrence
    December 13, 2014 at 10:03 am

    @MsParker – the responses at AoA are anything but civil….would you care to point out the umpteenth times I’ve been accused of being a shill? How about the accusations of bullying?

    And I haven’t bothered to post in a long while now – especially since I realized that you just can’t fix crazy.

    Like

  20. Lawrence
    December 13, 2014 at 10:07 am

    @MsParker – I also recognized the futility of having a discussion with individuals who continue to post (over and over and over again) refuted facts, lies and misrepresentations as they are the “truth” – like your recent post (again) that mentions peanut oil being used in vaccines….despite the FACT that it has never been and isn’t now being utilized in a single publicly-available vaccine.

    It is situations like that, where you have built a completely fabricated narrative & a total unreal alternate universe (where only you and the other anti-vax people live) that has convinced me that you never will be able to comprehend reality, facts and the science being discussed.

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